[Continued from Yesterday…..]
Most importantly, the Change Looms journey has given Navendu an opportunity to look within and understand himself better. “I spent most of my life struggling and lost myself in the ebb and flow of life. But with Change Looms I started to discover myself. This was a totally new experience for me.” How did this come about? Navendu credits his Change Looms mentor, Syag bhai who has many years of experience working with young people. During his field visit, Syag bhai spent a lot of time getting to know Navendu at a personal level – his feelings, hopes, frustrations, challenges and dreams. His conversations with Syag bhai made Navendu realize that he had never before looked at his relationships or behaviors. He had always been too busy, or perhaps, just too scared. Syag bhai made him realize the need to step back and reflect on one’s journey, one’s successes and failures, and to always be open to new ideas, experiences and people. It was this frame of mind that enabled Navendu to embrace the entire experience during the Change Looms Development Centre in October and make a break through in his personal development.
The Development Centre facilitates participants to look within and identify their deepest fear that holds them back from becoming who they really want to be. Navendu found the courage to confront his fear and recognized that since his father’s demise a year ago, he had withdrawn into a shell and did not allow anyone in. Today he observes that he is much more open and able to trust people again. Talking about this transformation, Navendu says: “My life experiences have taught me that at some level we erect boundaries around ourselves. … Coming out of them is very difficult. We need to understand and confront our shortcomings instead of denying their existence and running away from them. We should strengthen our relationships and attempt to fill the void which might be developing in them.”
For Navendu, Changelooms is “the process of shaping the rough contours of your inner self. Where you have to shed your outer skin and look within yourself to determine what you really are. Are you really the way you project yourself to the world or are you someone different?”
The Change Looms journey has also transformed Navendu’s views on gender. Gender was a new subject for him. “Yes, I also used to talk about women’s empowerment but I realize now that I had a very condescending attitude. It was as if we, men, were doing women a favor. It did not come from a sense of equality. Manak’s session on gender made me reflect on gender roles and how they limit a person’s potential. After I came back home, I started questioning the traditional gender roles in my family and discussing it with my mother, sister and newly married friends.”
Navendu also points out how his stereotypes about girls played themselves out in the classroom. “The way I talked to the boys was different from the way I talked to girls. Now I do not differ between boys and girls while taking a session. Instead I lay emphasis on what they are saying and not who is saying it.” Navendu has also started encouraging girls to participate and express their views in the classroom.
Meeting and getting to know Sankari – a fellow Changeloomer who happens to be a transgender – was the catalyst that made Navendu question his notions of gender. He had always thought of transgender people as abnormal. Initially he was hesitant to approach Sankari but once he broke the ice and started talking to her about her work and her experiences as a transgender, he was deeply moved and his entire perspective changed. “Why do we only see the surface and never the human inside?” he asked himself. “Every human is unique. What then is normal? Why does everyone have to be like me?”